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Career Story: Answering Service Operator

Answering Service Operator

Job Title: Operator

Type of Company: An answering service.

Education: Certificate, Medical Coding and Billing

Previous Experience: I worked for twenty years in the insurance business.

Job Tasks: I work for an answering service whose clients include doctors, lawyers, apartment complexes, oil companies, heating and air conditioning repairmen and plumbers.

My typical day starts at 6AM when I search the database at work for the messages that were taken from the day before and make sure that everything that needed to be attended to was taken care of. For example, I make sure that any tenants who have called in with maintenance issues are taken care of and that their messages are forwarded to the person who is on call for that day.

I also take consults from hospitals, which is information on a patient that is in the hospital. I have to get the name of the patient, what room he or she is in, his or her birth date, and what the problem is and then I have to page the doctor that is supposed to perform the consult on the patient and give him all the information. If the doctor is not available at the time I call him, I have to follow up with the doctor's consult until it is given out.

Most of what I do is to take messages from sick patients who are looking to make an appointment with their doctor. I have to get the person's name, date of birth, phone number, who their doctor is, and what the problem is. Then I save the information in the computer until that doctor's office checks in with us.

Another part of my job is to take messages from tenants of apartment buildings. I have to get their name, address, and the problem they are reporting. Then, I have to get in touch with the person on call for that apartment building and give him the information. Some times, I have to call the tenant back and tell them that the maintenance worker can't help him and that the message will have to wait until the office opens.

Another part of my job is to check out the account for the evening. Each account has it own account number and each account contains information about the our client's business. To check out an account for the evening, a person will call from the account and let us know that they are leaving for the evening and tell us who is on call for that evening until morning. This information has to be entered into the database so that when someone calls that account, we will know who to contact.

Weekends are a little different as the accounts are not open over the weekend. So, I have to page the person on call for the weekend after getting all the information from the caller.

I had taken medical coding and billing, and the training I got about medical terms and medical conditions helped me to understand the doctor and hospital calls I get.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The worst part of my job is the morning between 7AM and 9AM. This is the busiest time at the answering service and we are a little understaffed in the morning. But luckily it slows down after 9AM.

The best part of my job is the fact that I get to help people everyday. Our clients and patients rely on us to get the information out as soon as possible and I really enjoy it when patients say "I don't know what I would have done without you".

Job Tips: I would say the best thing you could do in order to perform this job is to take a class in medical terms, and to hone your computer keyboard skills so that you can type at 50-60 wpm. Also, you should remember that you have to be polite at all times while working as fast as you can during the busiest times of the day.

Additional Thoughts: In a job like mine, you really have to rely on your people skills to be able to get along with everybody.

Also, this is a good job to start with if you plan to go in the medical field as a receptionist or medical assistant. Of course you would need to continue your education if you choose to be a medical assistant.

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